Grapevine from Grafting
Grapevine from Grafting
The history of cutting deeply into the vascular tissues of one growing, strong, host plant and then inserting a part of another plant in such a way that they join together is called grafting (originally from the Greek, “graphion” referring to the sharpened end of piece to be inserted, the scion). The original cut into the host plant, the rootstock, is made into the vascular cambium of the plant (i.e., that part of the plant stem that contains the meristem, which is the plant tissue made up of undifferentiated cells where growth can take place). The piece to be grafted, the scion, is also cut to its vascular tissue. The vascular joining is called inosculation, and the process can be traced back to the early cultivation of fruit trees. Healthy, fruit-bearing crops from the stock of the scion rather than that of the rootstock are known to result. That is, the meristem adapts. The vascular cambium itself consists of cells that are already partially specialized (e.g., the “xylem” for the woody tissue that carries water and some water soluble mineral nutrients and the “phloem” for carrying carbohydrates and other similar nutrients). The plan is that the undifferentiated cells, as well as those partially differentiated, will accommodate the scion to the rootstock, and the phloem from the root-stock will learn to feed the growing scion graft. Should the graft “take,” the matured scion will, with the advent of photosynthesis (vide infra), return the favor to the rootstock. Both will profit. One story of the grafting process and the interaction between plants and the insects that feed on the plants as applied to the wine industry has been told often. A family of plant parasitic insects which are native to North America, the Phylloxeridae (Genus: Daktulosphaira; Species: vitifolia, Fitch, 1855, commonly called “phylloxera”) were involved. Grapevines in North America had built resistance to some members of the Phylloxeridae family and had, apparently, been able to match genetic changes in the insect with their own changes over the years.
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